Letter 4 - Confidence in God in the Face of Difficulty
Guastalla, January 16, 1534
To Giovan Giacomo Piccinini,47 beloved brother in Christ.
In the house of the Illustrious Lady
Countess of Guastalla.48 At St. Ambrose’s.
VERY DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST, GREETINGS.
I am only writing this letter to greet you and to tell you, on behalf of our Father, that neither you nor we need to worry about the present troublesome situations and any future ones, since none of us bears the burden; he does.
It is well known how he was always displeased with those who are negligent and unwilling to help themselves. Therefore, as far as we are concerned, let us strive not to fall into these very shortcomings, for Jesus Crucified will take care of the matter either by Himself or through our Father’s intercession. And so, we should not make too much fuss about what is going on because everything is possible with God—an undeniable truth that we almost touch with our own hands.
I will say no more. Soon you will come to know everything by word of mouth, though neither you nor we should be anxious to know the results. It is enough and, I would say, more than enough, that we follow the way of the cross, according to which it is sufficient to know whether it is a virtue or a fault to do something or to omit it. All we have to do, then, is to eliminate all fruitless curiosity and get to work. I am sure you have no idle curiosity, and that’s good. What I have just said is meant to make you somewhat aware of how we all feel about it.
And here I stop, except to remind you that the letters I write to you are strictly personal; keep them a secret and never show them to anyone at all. Should Mr. Gerolamo, the doctor,55 happen to give you a letter, insert it in yours and send them to me; but be careful to give them to trusty carriers, making sure that they deliver them; otherwise, keep them until you find a trusty one.
Remember me as well as everybody here to Madonna [Torelli],56 to Angela [Negri]57 and Porzia [Negri]58 and their sister,59 to Caterina [Candiani]60 and to the other women of our group, and to Mr. Giacomo Antonio [Morigia]61 and Francesco Crippa.62
From Guastalla, January 16, 1534.
Your brother in Christ,
Anthony M. Zaccaria, Priest
We are never alone in our difficulties. God is with us; he never abandons us. The saints too intercede for us and protect us.
We strive to do our duty diligently, for God does not help the negligent, the lazy and the idle.
When we try our best, the Lord will provide for the rest; for the Lord is a great provider and he continually sustains us.
Following the example of Christ, our Savior, we must accept our crosses willingly.
Do I sometimes feel that God pays no attention to me and he does not listen and cares about me?
Don’t I see it as a failure in my duty when I say, “It makes no difference since God abandons no one;” thus, I expect God to do also that which is my duty?
Do I truly believe that God who looks after the lilies of the field will not certainly neglect me who have been redeemed by Christ’s blood?
Am I willing to accept my daily crosses, following the example of Christ who carried his cross to Calvary?
47. See Introduction of this letter.
48. See n. 12.
49. For Anthony Mary’s numerous expressions of reverence and affection for Fra Battista da Crema seeLetters I (Introduction), IV, V, VII, and X.
50. See Orazio Premoli, Fra Battista da Crema secondo documenti inediti (Rome: Desclée, 1910) 34–35. Carafa’s blind hostility toward Fra Battista da Crema climaxed with the inclusion of all his writings in theIndex of Forbidden Books which was first issued by Carafa himself as Pope Paul IV in 1559. They were removed in 1900 three years after Anthony Mary’s canonization. In 1552 the Holy Office had already censured Fra Battista’s doctrine as “partly scandalous, partly heretical, partly suspect in matters of faith, and hence to be shunned by all Christians” (Atti della Visita Canonica di Mons. Marini, 1552, General Archives, Rome). These developments were all the more surprising in the light of the most favorable approval by Church authorities, which Fra Battista enjoyed during his lifetime. See Vittorio Michelini, I Barnabiti (Milan: NED, 1983) 47–51. See Letter IX, Introduction.
51. This happened once before, in 1531. At that time Fra Battista’s Superiors were enjoined by Church authorities in Milan to cease interfering with him and Countess Torelli.
52. See Premoli, Fra Battista 42 and Giuseppe M. Cagni, “Spunti e documenti per una biografia critica di Sant’Antonio Maria Zaccaria,” Barnabiti Studi 14 (1997) 427.
53. Cronica milanese dal 1500 al 1544 (Milan: Archivio Storico Italiano, 1851), 3. 522.
54. Without a doubt the context identifies them as the men and women respectively headed by Anthony Mary and Countess Torelli.
55. A teacher and physician in Milan.
56. See n. 12. Madonna was a term of address in Italian formerly equivalent of Madame and now ofSignora.
57. An Angelic Sister, sister of Paola Antonia (n. 59) and of Porzia (n. 58). Second Prioress (1539) of the St. Paul monastery in Milan. Died in 1550.
58. A widow, and sister of Angelic Paola Antonia, and of Fr. Camillo, Barnabite. She headed the group of young women brought together by Countess Torelli. A member of the mission band in Vicenza (September 1537) where she became Vicar of the monastery of the Converted. Later she was appointed Supervisor of the Converted of the Crucifix in Milan, located by the church of the Crucifix, where her sister Paola Antonia was buried. See Letter VI, Introduction.
59. Virginia Negri (1505–1555), the future Angelic Paola Antonia. The youngest of the first group who received the habit from Anthony Mary (see Letter V, Introduction), and exceptionally esteemed by Anthony Mary and the first generation of Barnabites and Angelics as partly evidenced by her cosigning of Anthony Mary’s Letters VI, VII, and VIII and signing of Anthony Mary’s Letter XII (see Letter XII, Introduction). See also Letters V, and IX.
60. An Angelic Sister. She, together with 28 other Sisters, is mentioned in a “donation” by Countess Torelli (1539).
61. See Letter II, Introduction. 62Francesco Crippa (1502–1542): one of Anthony Mary’s first eight companions (see n. 25). Never ordained a priest. See also Letter X.